Abbey Theatre box office revenues rebound following 'triumphant return to live theatre'

The Abbey's productions were greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic
Abbey Theatre box office revenues rebound following 'triumphant return to live theatre'

Gordon Deegan

Box office revenues at the Abbey Theatre rebounded by 29 per cent last year to €573,848, but still fell far short of pre-Covid levels.

The Abbey went dark in March 2020 due to the pandemic but is now fully re-opened after the easing of Covid restrictions.

According to the Abbey Theatre's 2021 annual review, box office income last year totalled €573,848 - an increase of €128,719 on 2020's €445,248.

However, last year's box office revenues represented a drop of 77 per cent compared to pre-Covid, with the theatre's 2019 box office takings totalling €2.5 million.

Just over 18,000 people attended Abbey-produced events last year compared to 116,494 in 2019.

In 20201, the Abbey also sold 3,854 tickets for digital productions as only 11 per cent of the theatre’s audience could attended in person due to Covid restrictions.

Despite the report stating 2021 "saw a long awaited and triumphant return to live theatre", it also noted that there were 148,000 views and listens of the theatre's content online last year.

In addition to funds generated by ticket sales, the Abbey also received €7.5 million in Arts Council funding last year.

Performance

The return to live performance began with a capacity of 50 patrons, with restrictions eased to allow houses of 50 per cent just in time for the Dublin Theatre Festival. Capacities of 70 per cent were permitted by the end of the year.

In 2021, there were 10 productions on the stages and four live productions out of the Abbey.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson for the theatre said the box office is "performing well", adding that the theatre is meeting its budgetary expectations for the year.

The spokesperson said: "While the theatre industry really suffered during Covid, it has been heartening to see the appetite of the audience for a return to live theatre and the steady increase in ticket sales in the year to date.

"To date this year we have just had one production that was available to view online – the rest have been live in-person performances."

"As is the case with our colleagues across the sector, we do not expect to see our box-office returns to match pre-Covid at this point. We have worked hard to ensure our audiences safety throughout Covid and have been pleasantly surprised by the speedy return of a large part of our audience.

"We understand others need more time and we are keen to welcome them when the time is right. We need them and their support and we expect to see our audiences continue to grow over the next 12 months," she added.

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